Author Archive

Back to May 4th, 1961…

by on Jul.21, 2011, under Current

…or Let the Russians Win
(or would that be the Chinese?)

As some of you might have heard, the United States is out of the Space Race, effectively pushing the reset on our space endeavors by defaulting on manned-space missions. Let me rephrase that: the United States government is out of the Space Race, placing any ambitions of Lunar/Martian exploration or colonization in the hands of the corporate sector.

As a young boy, I have always been fascinated by the concept of living out in space. But, as the years roll by so did the distance between dream and actuality. And then, we had the Mars rover and it looked like everything was back on track – perhaps there was some slim chance that I’d hear about life on the Moon before I died. Boy, that was short lived…

I realize that this is quite an extreme response to NASA closing shop, and there are plenty of competing companies out there drafting new designs for exploration and transit. Space travel will still move forward, right? True enough, but at what cost? NASA was grounded because it cost the government too much money. So instead of running a slimmed-down program “in-house” they will out source it to a contractor, a middle-man to get to space. Am I the only one that listens to commercials which state that it is always better to buy direct? And we are not just talking about cost alone; there is quality control as well. Sure, these companies might be the hare to NASA’s tortoise when it comes to getting our boys up in the black, but I’d prefer a safely conceived space craft rather than a time-crunched ACME strap-on rocket. And let’s not forget the loss of employment, a lot of it. And not every one of them is going to find a place in one of these existing company, and probably doesn’t have the capital for a start-up.

So what’s the tally? The United States is no longer a world leader in space exploration, any future space flights will be foreign or corporate with their inherent problems, and the number of unemployed Americans just grew a bit bigger. If this is an example of what will happen when the government slashes special programs, then Joe America better learn some humility:

It’s hard to be the braggarts that we are when we have nothing to brag about.

“Rambling Incoherently since 1973″

On a side note, if they are going to cut all these programs, then they should definitely increase taxation of the rich. I’m really getting tired of the little guy having their dreams, as well as financial stability, stepped upon by the machinations of millionaires and the posturing of politicians. I would be chewing you all a new one right now but I think the end of an era deserves more attention than you conniving cretins have been getting during this financial crisis.

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What’s on MyPlate?

by on Jun.06, 2011, under Current

We are to no longer feel the crack of the whip as we toil over the almighty food pyramid. There will no longer be some monolithic structure that we must divine our way towards a healthy, nutritious lifestyle. Instead, we shall dine on a plate and a coaster; such a simple way to live life within our dietary needs.

And this is going to help out… how?

Admittedly the way that the food pyramid had evolved was, from a visual standpoint, awkward. Really, what’s that yellow stripe suppose to be? Dietary supplements? Chemical additives? How much organic food you should eat? But if people would pay attention to fractions in math class, it was a decent albeit feeble attempt at setting a nutritional standard. Although I have to admit that it was a cluttered mess yet, if dietary views changes, all you had to do is adjust the size of the wedges.

Now on to the plate, America’s new guide to healthy eating.  Can you say “built for the social network crowd”? Look at those big, shiny, button-like shapes; as if the design was created for those with the lowest level of brain activity. I would have said “for children” but let’s face it, when it comes to eating, America shovels it into their gullets like the end of the world was upon us (even before the Mayans became a hype point). See, it is the same things as the pyramid: fractions. But this way, we can each have a MyPlate graphic on each dish we own so we can organize our food appropriately. I guess I’ll have to trim that slice of cheese and set it off to the side – it is dairy, can’t go on my burger.

Maybe I’m taking this thing too personally. If it took a graphic designer to come up with this then where’s my government job? I could have pulled that look off in my sleep.

What it boils down to is this: it is going to take more than just a whiz-bang graphic to get Joe and Jane America to eat healthy. Education, activity,  and financial accessibility is needed to get the United States back to its fighting weight. Teach them at a young age, get them outside and away from the idiot boxes (TV, computer, cell phone), and it wouldn’t hurt to make the good food a little cheaper… not everyone can afford organic and/or choice food products. And those first two points – education and activity – start at the home. I want to add common sense to my list but, well… one miracle at a time.

Now if you look at my forehead, you’ll see the Hypocrite Stamp of Approval. Yeah, I’m another American who is above the average weight these dietary standards set. But that stamp mark is fading; I’m trying to eat smaller portions, to be active regularly, and I’d like to buy better food (once I have the cash). At least I’m making an effort. Hell, there is someone on this site that is doing more than trying. They are doing. And I can’t give that person enough credit (you know who you are, and well done – keep it up). And I don’t think MyPlate had anything to do with it.

It just goes to show you that it doesn’t take a fancy hip logo to get you eating right. All you need is your brain to be on the right page and dedication in your heart to do the right thing for yourself. Although, I guess that firing a clown is another way too.

“Rambling Incoherently since 1973″

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Rage against the Machine

by on Apr.18, 2011, under Current, politics

“The ‘Machine politicians’ have shown their colors… I feel sorry for the country however as it shows the power of partisan politicians who think of nothing higher than their own interests, and I feel for your future. We cannot stand so corrupt a government for any great length of time.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.

Over a century ago these words were written by the father of the more famously known “Teddy”, yet I still feel that these words hold truth and weight today. I just read this passage less than a week ago from The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, around the same time we were hearing about the government shutting down because our elected representatives couldn’t figure out how to handle our nation’s budget. With something this important looming on the horizon, you would think that “bipartisan” would stop being a spin word and would actually mean something. Unfortunately the old adage “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” seems to be lost on Capitol Hill.

Despite what promises may have been declared during campaigns, the cogs still turn on fixed axes towards the gold standards of each party. And when they don’t touch on those stereotypical agendas, the parties become so adamantly focused or unbelievably befuddled on the topic of the day. I have heard little from the Republicans that does not refer to the obliteration of anything that was past prior to their gaining greater control in the House and the Senate. On the flip side of the coin, I can conclude that the Democrats squandered their former power through in-house bickering and inaction.  I feel like I’m watching “Iron Chef”, waiting for Chairman Kaga to utter dramatically “kyo no tema wa… BUDGET!”

It’s the budget today, the deficit tomorrow, health care yesterday, unemployment the day before that. You know, for a guy that never went to law school or was part of a committee, how come I seem to notice what the big wigs miss: that it is all connected?  People need jobs to get income so they can buy what they need to survive. They need to be healthy and educated so they can work as long as they can because – by doing so – they will continue to bring money into the government through various taxes or support charities that better the country. You wouldn’t have a deficit or a failing economy if we had healthy smart people with jobs. Smart people that can balance a checkbook; I think that is a valuable skill that needs to be taught on all levels, from the blue-collared masses to – apparently – our politicians.

And now I’ve heard that the political big wigs are taking a break, except for the “Gang of Six” who have decided to try to work through the recess to address the issue. So this is as bipartisan as the government can get? Six elected representatives – three from each party – who are doggedly trying to work on the matter? I have no idea what they might propose but, even if it was a completely beneficial compromise, I would not be surprised in the least if the gears of the machine chewed up said proposal with all of its oil-greased and dollar fueled precision.

It must be nice to relax when you have a life-or-death project on the line, I heard that’s a good business standard and a perfect way to keep your clientele. The Budget is life or death for the government and your clientele is the American people. If you can’t pull a little unpaid overtime to fix this, then I don’t think you can truly represent your constituents who are, for the most part, working extra hours or a second job just to make ends meet. The second option would be to quit and represent those who still don’t have a job. But I think you’ll stick with the minority of supporters, collecting the big paycheck for the huff and puff that rolls out of your mouths, confident that, when this country collapses into chaos, you’ll have enough cash to hop onto a private jet and leave.

Welcome to the Machine. If you’re not angry about it then I feel for our future.

“Rambling Incoherently since 1973″

And politics is just one aspect of it: I haven’t even touched on the million-dollar bids for advertisement placement during big sporting events or final episodes of popular shows. If companies have that much money floating around, why don’t they give back. If it wasn’t for this capitalistic democracy, they wouldn’t have that money in the first place. I guess they (and other well-off “institutions”) can’t see how important of an investment the United States of America is…


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Can your Soul Handle the Future?

by on Mar.25, 2011, under Current

Yes, the title might be a little over the top… but so is this!

That’s right, watch out Pope, there is a new player in the struggle for the souls of the earth and they are not afraid to go DIGITAL on the Roman Catholic Church. All of you other religions, take heed! For you will have no new lambs in your flock, no new devotees to your beliefs, unless you also go DIGITAL… and, as you have noticed, that’s digital in all caps!

A friend of mine sent me this link and I nearly fell out of my chair at the pure awesome application of brute digital force that they used, just for the load-in screen alone! They boldly took Flash were no Flash-user has gone before – or should(?) – and then that drops you into the main page, with an audio introduction strengthened by some (rather loud) christian rock; I’m talking about an entire song, not some snippet that fades out shortly after the speech. I have not explored the entire site but I’m sure that each page you go to on the website is an experience for your eyes and ears – and, if it was possible, I’m sure they would hit you with all five senses… maybe even six.

I tell you, Bishop Don Meares has the ambition to bring faith to the next generation who have been entrenched in the digital internet, iPhones, Kindles… that flash intro page looked like a level-up cut-scene from some MMORPG, so you know he’s tapping the entire connected community! I tend to avoid making any statements on religion or belief – and if you are hip to the message of the Evangel Cathedral, then kudos for you – but I can’t help but notice that I get a very heavy “pundit” vibe from a display like this (I would have went with “televangelist” but this… this is so high-tech that it makes those TV bible-thumpers look like they’re straight out of 1911). I’m not talking about website to website – Bill O’Reilly’s website is quite bland and archaic in comparison – but this comes off with so much bravado that it kind of reminds me of a Glenn Beck, but on a whole different set of crazy pills.  Again, trying not to be judgmental but I’m sure at least some of you Evangel faithful can meet me halfway and see where I’m coming from.

Is this shit weak? To be honest, I don’t know. As a graphic designer, the intro alone tends to drain credibility from the establishment… but the rest of the site looks solid (I would suggest toning down the audio… again, a little much). But, coming from a guy that loves to witness something new, I have to take my hat off. I don’t care what the message is but, as an overall experience, I have to say “thumbs up on that coaster ride”.

“Rambling Incoherently since 1973″

And, in case you didn’t catch the link earlier, you want to go here:



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For the Worker is Working when the Fat Cat’s About

by on Feb.28, 2011, under Current

It has been a long time since I went to see a live show, and never once in Chicago. Until now. This past Saturday, the Dropkick Murphys were in attendance at the Congress in Chicago and, once more, I was blown away by their stage presence and performance. On this point alone I would encourage anyone to see them.

But there is more to it than that. Be it the Irish root to the music or not, the songs ring out about the downtrodden common man. Despite evident oppression (or perhaps because of it) the blue-collar man rises up to meet the challenge, to stand up for their beliefs, and to celebrate life in the ways that are easy and readily available to them. Sure, that could equate to getting plastered, cheering on the home team, and supporting family and loved ones, but I feel that anyone from a similar background can relate, Irish or not.

And there is something there, sometimes visceral, often times heartfelt, that lies within the music and stirs you into action. One cannot help but be swept up in the emotional output. I think the Irish have got that covered in their musical endeavors, and the Dropkick Murphys – in my opinion – bring it to the next level.

So, with St. Patty’s coming up, why don’t you give the Murphys a go? Be you in a political mindset or just want to “get pissed”, there is no better way that I can see when wearing the green.

“Rambling Incoherently since 1973″

Yeh, this one’s for the workers who toil night and day
By hand and by brain to earn your pay
Who for centuries long past for no more than your bread
Have bled for your countries and counted your dead

In the factories and mills, in the shipyards and mines
We’ve often been told to keep up with the times
For our skills are not needed, they’ve streamlined the job
And with sliderule and stopwatch our pride they have robbed

We’re the first ones to starve, we’re the first ones to die
The first ones in line for that pie-in-the-sky
And we’re always the last when the cream is shared out
For the worker is working when the fat cat’s about

And when the sky darkens and the prospect is war
Who’s given a gun and then pushed to the fore
And expected to die for the land of our birth
Though we’ve never owned one lousy handful of earth?

We’re the first ones to starve, we’re the first ones to die
The first ones in line for that pie-in-the-sky
And we’re always the last when the cream is shared out
For the worker is working when the fat cat’s about

All of these things the worker has done
From tilling the fields to carrying the gun
We’ve been yoked to the plough since time first began
And always expected to carry the can

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So You Say You Want A Revolution?

by on Feb.21, 2011, under Current, politics, Polotics

Well you know… we’d all want to change the world.

And now, it looks like that want is becoming a reality, at least across the Pond. Egypt. Tunisia. Libya. I’m sure I’m missing a few but these are the countries currently getting the most attention in the news. I have to say that this all brings out mixed emotions regarding the whole situation. It makes me believe in the people of the world, that we are not inactive and that we will stand up when change is necessary, no, required for our own well being. Yet it also reminds me that there are those individuals who would seek to exploit others for things that are so petty compared to the meaning of humanity. And after the old regimes are torn down, will the replacement be the answer the people need or will yet another potentially fouler institution come into being?

I applaud the citizens of these countries for making a stand. Not necessarily for whatever political movement they represent, although just freedoms are the most valued commodity that we all should strive to achieve. What I really admire is their knowledge that they risk everything in their protests. When it boils down to it I am an armchair protester/agitator who shouts his words across the digit media, safe behind a monitor far away from the threat. I might report on these world affairs, drawing attention to such events, but I rank noticeably lower than those on location reporters that risk their lives to get that word out first. I appear as just one amongst a legion of bloggers that seem to toss their two cents in on the latest news as if we are some authority on the subject.

But is that so bad? Being one of the uncountable masses feeding the media base on the subject? I think a good answer to that is when Egypt’s internet connectivity was shut off. How quickly did those crowds grow when that one outlet was removed, when an option to voice out was silenced? Courage to make change has to come from somewhere. Talking about current events and problems is just the start, vocalizing your concerns and angers might not get you out the door and campaigning for freedom but it can help push others in that direction. And when the avenue of speech is taken from you, then the only choices you have is to either join the protesters or keep your mouth shut and remain under the heel of those you wish to scream at.

I’ve been to Egypt, nearly a decade ago. Yes I saw the pyramids, the tombs, the big tourist stops. But I also bowed out of a mosque visit to just walk the streets, seeing the local kids who wanted to show off their English skills (perhaps even to get some coin from the visiting American). When a second stop to Alexandria was planned I stayed in Cairo, listening to the speakers crackle the evening prayers… soaking it all in and gaining some inspiration in my artwork. My point being that I have experienced a snippet of the underlying culture, seen some of the common folk. And I’ve seen the place that they lived in and, although beautiful and exotic, I could see – even before the events of this year – that it could be so much better for them. The Egyptian protests proves to me that they saw it too, for many years more than my two week visit.

So America, can we learn something from this? Don’t get me wrong. Stateside, we’ve seen a hefty shift in grassroots political movement – the Tea Party taking the top of the list. But is it the same thing? Are those people that really need significant change in those crowds, letting their voice be heard to provide the just freedoms they deserve? Or are they an easily motivated and mobilized herd that the same political figures are stirring up to make “changes” towards the same situation with a different name? Are the politicians they got elected pushing for a better tomorrow for all the citizens of the United States or are these new representatives ripping apart beneficial policies in the name of change alone?

I think the people that really need the change either have no way to voice their frustrations or have resigned themselves to closed mouths and internal ranting. So, when it boils down to it, I don’t feel that bad about being a faceless digital agitator.

Although that might change if someone decided to take away my voice…

“Rambling Incoherently since 1973″

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Flip ME Upsidedown

by on Jan.25, 2011, under Current

If I had a time machine – besides ensuring my financial well being – I’d go back to when the Self became more important than the Group… and put a stop to it. Recently I had a horrible day at work and, on the way home, I heard some guy on the radio mention this poll in which a bunch of kids were asked “Are you an important person?”. In the 50′s, the response was around 15%… nowadays it is more like 85%. I know some of you might be thinking: “Well, sure, everyone should think that they are important. That’s good self-esteem.” I’d like to point out that such a response is not taking everything into perspective and, in some cases, is only a catalyst for poor social character. I think, in this poll, the term “important person” is defined as the center of attention rather than a gauge of an individual’s worth. I also believe that the 50′s kids got the nuance but this is lost on the most recent generations.

I could lambaste the over-indulged and extreme take on self-importance in today’s society, but I’m trying to keep this short so I’ll just focus on the catalyst: my bad day at work.

I get to the job early, clocking in 5 minutes before the start of the day. From punch-in to punch-out, I work. Sure, small-talk occurs but I’m working while the lips flap and the topics fly. I’m not perfect but I don’t believe I waste more than an average of 5 minutes a day in social mode. I do this because I need the job. I need the money. I need to pay bills and eat and all that. And if asked why I haven’t moved up to part-time or full-time, I can answer with I need to be in my job field instead of advancing in a typical low-grade blue-collar job – the pay will be better and I will have mental and spiritual state-of-mind knowing I am doing something I love and was educated for. Freelance work is nice additive but I need something better.

As for a lot of other people at the job, the key word isn’t need. It is want. They want the money. They want that money to buy things they want. But they also don’t want to put forth the effort because, in all actuality, they don’t want the job. Hell, I don’t want the job… but I do need the job. Everyday I see co-workers chit-chatting during that first 15 minutes after they clock in or when they find themselves out of their department after helping a customer – since that bit of work is out of the way, why not catch up on what’s happening with some idle banter? And here is the best part. Remember when you were a little kid and you didn’t want to go somewhere? How you’d drag your feet? And management wonders why nothing gets done. And my co-workers wonder why we get blamed and punished… but I know why.

If you flip ME upsidedown you get WE, and people need to get this in their head. Really? Is it that important that we all know you just bought a bagel via your Tweet or Facebook update? Is it that important that you speed and cut people off because you are running late? Is your life that damn important that everthing else – job, school, relationships – is just a tedious burden, oh so annoying compared to your own delusion-inspired spotlight? “There is no ‘I’ in team” but, if you take the time to look at it closely, you’ll see “me” starring back at you… wondering why I have to work at life extra hard because of you “I” people. We can communicate with people across the world in an instant, with the possibility of nearly 7 billion people out there working together in some degree to make this a better place. We can make a difference if we stopped worrying about our own image and luxury.

But that doesn’t happen, does it? Get off the pedestal. You’re. Not. That. Important.

“Rambling Incoherently since 1973″

One might say that I’m hypocritical, that my ranting on this website is just an example of my personal need to step up on the proverbial soap box so everyone can hear my words. First off, don’t read into it too hard – a person that does charity work gets their own self-reward in the knowledge that they did a good deed. Secondly, if I get one reader out there to actually think about one of these posts then is this really just a self-serving aparatus? And lastly, I am a hypocrit at times when it comes to this (I call him Sloth, but I’m wearing him down). However, ask yourself this: are you calling me a hypocrit because the message, in some way, hits too close to home?

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Hoarding can be Therapeutic

by on Jan.12, 2011, under Current

Let me clarify.

I speak not of the obsessive collection of objects to the point of lifestyle decline, although I am guilty of being a small-case study (you’ll see why in a moment). No, I’m talking about memorabilia. Be it a journal, scrap-booking, or photo albums, an object held dear is an ultimate conduit to past experiences.

I’m going to side-step the ranting for a moment and get real.

There is a Japanese tradition or cultural aspect that places cleaning for the new year as a pivotal point of the next cycle and, being married into that culture, I have been partaking in it for the last decade. Now I hate cleaning. I tend to have a mess of papers on my desk everyday (and plenty more shoved in drawers and boxes). It is the way I organize – I swear that if someone moves something from my disorganized filing system, I become completely befuddled. In fact, whenever I do a major cleaning I overcompensate, become super organized, and re-order entire living spaces.

But I digress.

I’ve finally finished cleaning up my workspace (the last target of the big clean) and I was reaffirmed of why I keep certain things way past their due dates. I’ve come across old artwork and gaming material from my high school and college days, past projects for previous employers, and random baubles from (mis)adventures. TMNT misfits, a Goblin Squad, and the Banesmith hearken back to the Southgate days of youthful growth, where Boy Scout badges and pictures of anarchists with 40′s act as shoulder angels and devils during a cherished, developing period. A free-form comic I never completed recalls cold nights outside the City Club, eroding the right side of my friend and his car while a pitbull sniffed female crotch and barked at the homeless, and sexual chocolate and wall punching occurred upstairs. Countless undying clan members speak whispers of many nights with my expanding Downriver friend-base and a hyperspace jump, supernatural investigation, or a high school revisit in Monaco display the growing strength of these connections. Album covers, the Hyborian Age, and a long time ago far far before Prequels remind me of the good things that can occur when working for clowns. A USS Missouri mouse pad, a St. Louis Art Museum guide, a handful of wedding thank-yous, and a couple of boxes from Cairo give hint to my travels or family abroad.

I won’t name names (if you caught any of the references above then you know who you are) but each of you and many others have a bit of their soul in my small hoard of treasures. Needless to say, I am grateful for the moments we had – through good times and bad – and look forward to many more. Perhaps this is why the Japanese have their annual clean, to rekindle memories fogged over by the passing year. Either that or I’m reading way too much into this and my wife just wants a less-cluttered lifestyle (and I have no problem with that, at all).

Despite the memories, the hoard must be culled and many a scrap piece of paper or useless trinket has been discarded.

But the hoard still lives and I thank the digital age for one thing: electronic archiving. So when I have time to burn, I’ll be burning disks as I scan my now organized collection of keepsakes so I may reawaken these memories once more… all in a very convenient and space-saving device. Here’s hoping that we don’t upgrade our storage devices any time soon; burning that bundle of memories will be a bitch.

The Age of Digital Hoarding has begun!

“Rambling Incoherently since 1973″

It goes without saying that some shout outs are well deserved: To Dr. Tongue and the Brothers K for the foundation, as well as a certain sport-o enemy turned gamer and best friend.

To our Indianapolis Lethal Weapon: Thanks for hyping up Vacant’s campaign en route to Ann Arbor Anime and being the target of my antics, and kudos to V & Co for necromancy and soccer practice.

To Grimm for taking me in after one meeting, making me a patricidal anarch, a fashion model, and a Scottish Highlander… and, through Whispers, gave me the Asian hook-up.

To the Hyland, for making grease-paint easy to swallow on a Thursday night.

To the Quiet Man, Powered by Hate, and their better halves – be it a winning smile or a furrowed brow, a Shanghai or Greektown night, your company is always cherished.

And to that Asian Connection, you Fred Flintstone’d into my life, kicking Mickey’s and ass through real life and fantasy… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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The Annual Broken Promise

by on Jan.03, 2011, under Current

“What was your New Year’s Resolution?”

I’m sure someone has asked you this at some point in your life (if not, wait for it). And many have answered with a declaration of change, be it profound or idiotic. And almost as many never see this proclamation resolved.

Why is it that we give ourselves these empty promises, usually more ambition than we could ever possibly achieve? Be it based on our annual changeover, aspirations for the future, or too much inebriation, the Resolution has to be the weakest attempt at self-fulfillment out there. At some point in the year (possibly even that first week) we go back on that promise, the motivation and drive worn down by the daily drudge and the monotonous grind of our schedules, or forgotten as our minds are distracted by new concepts or the need to fall back into the routine.

For all those out there who really want to keep to this tradition and see it out, I propose the following: you can keep January’s Resolution but add a monthly Reaffirmation. Just as you would begin your annual promise at the first moment of January 1st, so should you revisit the concept that first day of February, as well as March, April, and so on. Treat it as a New Month Celebration and treat yourself… that is, if you’ve been true to your Resolution. If not, then it is the perfect time to reevaluate and to reconfirm your devotion to the cause.

And why stop there? Just because you succeed at a Resolution, do you just toss it to the curb and forget about it? If it is a consistent effort such as weight loss or personal improvement, then it should be more than an annual promise – the resolution should be reaffirmed once more on New Year’s as a new promise is added. Even a one-shot goal could act as inspiration, remembered at the stroke of midnight to help motivate you through another yearly commitment. I think too many people forget that resolutions, changes, promises are meant to improve ourselves and possibly the welfare of others. It is an ongoing thing, not some fake words uttered during the moment and then cast aside when it becomes a burden.

Last year I resolved to be more creative and to keep pushing towards a position in my field of work. Have I kept true? Not always. In fact, I feel that I’ve failed on both parts. But I did work on quite a few projects as a freelancer (more so than the previous year) and that along with my continued job searching hits close to the mark. I’ve reaffirmed this resolution, and I will keep doing so even after I have a full time position because that’s what we are suppose to do: strive for excellence in who we are and whatever we do.

“Rambling Incoherently since 1973″

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Yes, Virginia, There is No Santa Claus

by on Dec.27, 2010, under Current

Should I have preceded that with a “Spoiler Alert”? Sorry kids, perhaps you shouldn’t stray from the Dora the Explorer website. Blame her for not informing you of the perils of exploring.

Last week, my wife asked me if we should tell our kids that there is a Santa Claus. I found it to be one of the most compelling question I’ve heard in a long time and, not too surprising, I found myself leaning towards “no”. Whether it be yes or no, the decision to include or eliminate Kris Kringle  is not a simple choice: The man’s image is plastered everywhere during the season, his songs are pipped constantly into your ears, and the youth is indoctrinated into belief at a scale that is practically global.

The easy route is to tell your child that there is a St. Nicholas – a mystical man from the north with flying reindeer, a following of elves bent on toy manufacturing rather than the wars of Middle Earth, and a penchant for annual breaking-and-enterings to deliver gifts… all to the good children which he has monitored throughout the year (that last bit can get you on its own naughty list). So, how many years is this tall tale going to fly? We both asked ourselves when we first disbelieved. Mine was the premise of Santa crawling through the metal stove that barricaded our chimney. And hers? Well, she can’t remember a time when she believed. Sure the imagination runs wild in a child’s mind with the stories of Mr. Claus – accompanied by letters to the north pole and milk & cookies on Christmas Eve – but is it worth having that joy stripped away when they discover the presents from Santa in the attic or dad eating up the snacks as they observe from the stairs? And what of the kids that are good all year round but Santa doesn’t visit? How do you explain Santa skipping over them to deliver toys to the spoiled rich kids on the good side of town?

Which brings us to the reverse (and my choice): there is no Santa Claus. Well, I guess you’d have to fall back to the definition of the holiday… that whole “the meaning of Christmas” thing that people speak of as less realistic than an unidentified flying fat man. I guess you’d have to present Santa like all the other fairy tale characters and, after reading A Night Before Christmas, you’d have to ask your child what they’ve learned from the story. That would be the only way to prepare a child for the Santa Propaganda they’ll be exposed to. As for presents, I’d like to limit it to one… from each set of relatives (I’m not going to deny grandparents the opportunity to give gifts). However, the giving aspect should be reinforced over the getting… even if it is just words in a card, some craft-project, or a visit on Christmas day if all else fails. Basically, you keep the trappings of Christmas but reinforce the spirit of the holiday.

Will it work?  Can you raise a child in a No-Santa zone? Probably not. Nostalgia is the true enemy and, really, who wants to deny their kid the same memories that they once had? Even if you could summon the will to sally forth to the cause, can you convince family and friends to do the same? Can you tell the other kids not to tease your child because he doesn’t believe in a fictional entity? Are you willing to get yelled at when you accidentally let that slip to the believers, and their parents come down on you? Not to sound religious or anything but is this what happens when new beliefs grow from old ones or when ideologies clash? Will the non-Santas be persecuted by a commercial cult of gift-getters?

Be it doomed to failure or not, we’ll probably give it a go. We’re both fairly creative, with wild imaginations and (sometimes impeding) child-like natures. I’m sure that we can fill the awe-inspiring vacuum left by the mysterious man of the north. Hell, it seems that he had already filled the vacuum for the true meaning of the holiday. To me, that is both sad and inspirational.

“Rambling Incoherently since 1973″

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